Now it's the players' turn to get involved in baseball's realignment debate.
With an owners' vote on realignment on hold, player representatives are circulating a union counterplan that will move the Houston Astros from the NL Central to the AL West, That would create two 15-team leagues.
The players' plan is much simpler than the main one being considered by owners. That proposal would have Tampa Bay and Arizona switching leagues, the elimination of the wild card in the NL, and a six-team AL Central to go along with six four-team divisions.
''When I reviewed it, I thought it was definitely a better plan,'' Tampa Bay representative Mike DiFelice said Thursday. ''You at least have the leagues evenly spilt and have the wild card. I think the wild card is good for the fans. I think it's good for the teams.''
But the players' plan does create one major problem. With an odd number of teams in each league, interleague games would need to be played most days of the season.
With two 15-team leagues, there would have to be at least one interleague game scheduled for every Friday, Saturday, Sunday; most Tuesdays and Wednesdays; and some Mondays and Thursdays.
The plan also does not address Texas' desire to leave the AL West, where the Rangers play all of their division road games in the Pacific time zone.
This plan would solve that only slightly -- and by creating a rivalry with the Astros, it presumably would guarantee sellouts when the teams face each other.
Because Texas has been in the AL West and Houston in the NL Central, the teams have not met in interleague play.
But a top Astros official, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said the team had no desire to leave the National League. Astros owner Drayton McLane has said many times he is happy where the Astros are. McLane can veto any league switch.
Owners had been expected to meet in Detroit on June 13-14 to discuss realignment, but commissioner Bud Selig postponed that meeting. A meeting is expected to take place in late June or early July.
Under the plan most discussed, Arizona would move from the NL West to the AL West, Texas would move from the AL West to the AL Central and Tampa Bay would move from the AL East to the National League, which would realign into four four-team divisions with no wild card.
''I think what they are talking about with a four-team division in the NL and the elimination of the wild card, won't go through,'' Boston player rep Tim Wakefield said.
The White Sox, Twins and Royals, who would be part of the six-team AL Central, have objected, saying it would be harder to reach the postseason. In addition, Arizona wants to stay in the NL.
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